Congratulations, you’ve got yourself
a date for Saturday night. Now, all you have to do is come up with
something inventive for you and this special someone to do. Easy,
right?

Janna Hutz
Goodnite Gracie is “the chic.” (JONATHON TRIEST/Daily)

That may be the case with the tried-and-true dinner and a movie
jaunt, but face it: While that plan certainly does not go out of
style, it dramatically loses its hip factor after a certain point.
It’s hard to design a creative night out when you’re
busy being a student, but that shouldn’t give you an excuse
to be boring.

Whether it’s a first date or another night out with your
steady of two years, you still want to start the evening with an
impressive bang and keep things exciting. A trip to Blockbuster and
a bag of popcorn may be a comfy no-brainer, but Ann Arbor offers a
selection of perennial dating hot spots that beg to be explored
with a partner. So, clear your calendars and plan for a pleasurable
outing. Here’s the ticket.

 

Karaoke:

For the tone deaf and self-deprecating

Thanks to Cameron Diaz in “My Best Friend’s
Wedding,” it has become socially acceptable to be really,
really rotten when rocking the mic. Now virtually immortalized in
film as a flirting “do,” karaoke can be considered a
definite way to snag the affections of your date, even if your
voice is more Britney than Christina. Just watch Bill
Murray’s character in “Lost in Translation;” he
is completely enthralled with Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) when
she sings a novice rendition of the Pretenders’ “Brass
in Pocket.”

Simply put, karaoke is the ultimate ice-breaker for a date. If
partaking in an engaging conversation is nerve wracking, why not
sing? Karaoke provides couples with the opportunity to come out of
their shells and laugh at themselves in a vulnerable situation,
which is a promising sign, even though it initially sounds
frightening.

Still, the question remains: Who sings first? This can be a
difficult decision, for one may feel awkward about giving a solo
performance and thus submitting oneself to the judgment of his or
her date. Or, if your date belts out a fabulous
“Respect,” you will surely feel like an ass when
it’s your turn and you cannot carry a tune.

To solve this problem, we suggest that you go at it together, as
a duet. Be sure to avoid any songs that will immediately cast you
as a serious couple — anything from “Grease,”
Captain and Tenille, Broadway love ballads and any Disney song
featuring Celine Dion. Stick to safeties such as Motown hits,
à la Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye (however, “Let’s
Get it on” can wait a few dates).

Even better than laughing at yourself and/or your date is
laughing at the other people who are terrible singers. At the Blind
Pig on Main Street, said by many to be the best place for local
karaoke, patrons can subject their ears to “American
Idol” wannabes and still have a good time. Every Monday,
Stoo’s Karaoke kicks off at 9:30 p.m. and goes rather strong
for the entire evening. Others can opt for karaoke and bowling at
both Bel-Mark Lanes and Colonial Lanes Bowling Center.

For those couples who wish to get out of Ann Arbor and avoid
being caught singing off-key, Ypsilanti proffers a number of
establishments for singing along to guilty pleasure tunes by Guns
N’ Roses.

The Tap Room on W. Michigan Avenue and Powell’s Pub on
North Huron Street also feature karaoke nights and practically
ensure that you won’t be seen by your peers. Let’s just
hope that you can carry on a good tête-à-tête
when the singing is over.

 

Goodnite Gracie:

For the savvy sophisticate

Creatures of habit who are in the know are well familiar with
the swanky interior of Goodnite Gracie Jazz and Martini Bar and
will surely tell you to bring a date to this locale. The classy
décor rich in violet hues, the live performances and the
glitzy bar are chic characteristics that will widen your
date’s eyes and stir a great impression.

When you bring a date here, you are not only showing him or her
that you are an aficionado of fine beverages and music, but you are
also displaying a maturity that shows you know the “in”
places where Ladies Night and dollar pitchers do not reign supreme.
At Gracie’s, you can leave your worries of extremely
inebriated oafs at home, and you are invited to cozy-up in the
dimly lit environment. You and your date will feel like the only
ones there, or at least, the only ones there who matter.

The martini menu alone is worth checking out, even if you
aren’t a big drinker. The names of the drinks (“French
Silk,” “Vanilla Sky”) will provide a good
conversation and they are quite tasty trifles (try the
“Garden of Eden”). If your date is not going as well as
you had hoped, you can still treat yourself to a fine libation.
However, the drinks here can be on the more potent side, so be
careful as to not become too drunk if you are trying to make a good
impression.

A huge plus about this date place is the 21-and-over policy.
Instead of having to make your way through the crowds of teenagers
at the movies, you can embark on a more adult outing as you sidle
up to your sweetie. Those days of waiting in line at Scorekeepers
with your fake I.D. are over; you have reached the sophisticated
age of legality and you should enjoy it like the suave martini
connoisseur you had always wanted to be.

If you like Goodnite Gracie (located on est. Huron Street), and
you certainly will, there are other fine establishments suitable
for venturing to. Bab’s Martini Bar on Main Street is another
setting where couples can enjoy a good drink, but it is a bit more
smoky and loud.

Cooking at home:

For the culinary inclined

Before the joys of a home-cooked meal are taken into account, it
must be acknowledged that cooking at home is definitely not
recommended for a first date. Unless you are an attractive Mario
Batali or Julia Child, save the gustatory bragging for later and
get to know your date before you start making bacon.

When the time does come for you to show off your knowledge, or
lack thereof, of fine fare, a few issues need to be hatched out
before the big event. First, if you are the one cooking, which is a
fantastic way to impress your date (by the way, a friend swears
that her mother snagged her father’s heart with her excellent
Italian cooking), make sure that you know your date’s likes
and dislikes, along with any food allergies.

Second, to avoid having to do all of the work, have your date
bring dessert and help with the clean-up. It will be enough work to
provide the main course, let alone act as if you know how to master
the meal preparation in the first place. Lastly, make sure that
your housemates evacuate the premises, unless you want people
interrupting your meal, and don’t make your date wait an
eternity before eating. It also doesn’t hurt to look good in
an apron.

Cooking together provides an even more daring, exciting
experience. You can sensually help each other sample the food (use
a spoon though) and chances are, your kitchen is small and will
force the two of you to closely chop and peel, rub past each other
or sneakily reach for that jar of tomato sauce on the top
shelf.

Speaking of tomato sauce, it is a good idea to steer clear of
making anything messy, like spaghetti, or using anything that
requires excess amounts of garlic. Keep in mind that you are
attempting to create an enjoyable evening; you don’t want to
send your date rushing for fresh air. Among other words of wisdom:
make sure that all bones, wrappers and even hairs are absent in the
food and try not to burn the house down!

When it comes to the actual dining, play some music and have a
wine selected that complements the meal. Conveniently, Village
Corner on South University Avenue has a great selection. Girls,
don’t forget to eat the food. You have just spent time in a
kitchen — now is clearly not the time to regress to
fanatical, nitpicky eating habits.

To satisfy a sweet tooth, mom’s prized cookie recipe may
be your answer, or maybe you prefer something more romantic, such
as strawberries dipped in chocolate sauce. Whatever the case may
be, just make sure that you leave room for dessert.

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